Politics

Kellyanne Conway Walks Back Surveillance Comments

| by Michael Howard

President Donald Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway appeared on a number of talk shows on the morning of March 13 to clarify comments she made regarding allegations that former President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign.

On March 12, Conway was interviewed in her Alpine, New Jersey, home by the Bergen County Record. When asked about Trump's claim that former President Barack Obama's administration was spying on his campaign, Conway appeared to suggest that the alleged wiretapping may have been part of a wider surveillance operation.

"What I can say is there are many ways to surveil each other now, unfortunately," she said, according to The Huffington Post. "There was an article this week that talked about how you can surveil someone through their phones … certainly through their television sets, any number of different ways, and microwaves that turn into cameras … so we know that that is just a fact of modern life."

The following day, she appeared on several morning talk shows to address the controversy sparked by her comments, clarifying that she was not saying Obama spied on Trump through his television or microwave.

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"I wasn't talking about anything specific," Conway told ABC's George Stephanopoulos, adding that she was discussing "surveilling generally."

She admitted in the same interview that, as far as she knows, there is no evidence to suggest that Obama wiretapped Trump's phones. Still, she thinks a congressional investigation is in order.

"I have no evidence, but that's why there is an investigation in Congress," she said. "That's particularly what investigations are for."

Appearing on NBC's "Today," Conway attempted to steer the conversation away from the wiretapping narrative, denying that the president has a tendency to promote conspiracy theories.

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When host Savannah Guthrie suggested that a comparison could be made between Trump's wiretapping accusation and his previous accusation that Obama was not born in the United States, Conway said such a comparison is inappropriate and tried to change the subject.

"I fail to see a comparison," she said. "We’re talking about a big agenda here. I know it’s your show and you can talk about what you want. But there’s 20 million people just last year who said no to Obamacare -- 6.5 million of them paid a penalty."

Guthrie responded by reminding Conway that Trump, not the media, brought up the topic of wiretapping.

"It isn't like something that a blogger wrote," Guthrie said. "The president of the United States accused his predecessor of tapping his phones. So, in fairness, the media are just trying to find out if there’s any veracity to the claims."

"I understand," Conway replied. "But there’s so many other things going on as well that matter to Americans."

According to a report by The Associated Press, the wiretapping allegation was first made by conservative radio host Mark Levin and later picked up by Breitbart News. A Trump aide then reportedly slipped the Breitbart article into the president's daily reading pile. Upon reading the article, Trump published a series of tweets in which he accused Obama of spying on his campaign.

Sources: The Huffington Post, The Associated Press / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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